This new CD is a collaboration between Portland-based fiddler Annie Staninec and British Columbia banjo player Nick Hornbuckle. I first met Annie when her dad brought her to an old-time jam when she was 9 years old. Now, she fiddles in Kathy Kallick’s band and with Whiskey Deaf, and a few years ago she toured with Rod Stewart on fiddle and banjo for a few months. Nick plays banjo with John Reischman and the Jaybirds. He plays in an ornate two-finger style which reminds me of Tony Ellis, who wrote a glowing endorsement for this recording. There are no liner notes indicating tune sources or much other information, but I will try to fill in some of the gaps.
The 13 tunes begin with the title tune, “Twin Sisters.” There are at least five tunes with this title listed in the online fiddle tune archive, but this one is commonly played in old-time circles and probably derives from the British “Boys of Blue Hill.” The fiddle banjo duet is lovely and precise and includes some nice subtle variations. “Pretty Little Indian” may have come from Curly Ray Cline, Glen Smith, or Fiddlin’ Van Kidwell. “Flannery’s Dream” with its evocative double stops is fiddled solo by Annie and comes from renowned Kentucky fiddler John Salyer. There are at least two tunes entitled “Hell Broke Loose in Georgia,” but this sounds like the C tune (the other is in G and is from Pennsylvania) which has been recorded by a few fiddlers. “The Belles of Blackville” is played in DDAD on the fiddle and probably comes from Alabama fiddler James Bryan on the “Two Pictures” CD with Carl Jones, though there is also a YouTube version by the band Streak of Lean. “Chinquapin Pie,” played solo on banjo by Nick, is from Virginia musician Hobart Smith. A chinquapin is an edible nut. There are at least three tunes with “Walk Along John” in the title, though one is “Walk Along John (with Your Paper Collar on)” and another is “Walk Along John to Kansas.” This one is in G so it is likely just “Walk Along John” from Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. It could have come from a number of sources. “Ducks on the Millpond” probably traces back to Virginia fiddler Emmett Lundy but could be filtered by a number of more recent fiddlers. “Pa Janvier” is a cajun tune in the unusual tuning of FCGD and is fiddled solo by Annie. It comes from Dennis McGee but has been more recently recorded by Cedric Watson. “Ninety Degrees” was composed by old-time fiddler Brad Leftwich. “Piney Ridge” is a solo banjo piece by Nick which likely comes from the fiddling of W. H. Stepp, a noted Kentucky fiddler recorded in 1937 by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax. Next is a medley of “Dry and Dusty” and “Duck River.” The latter comes from John Salyer and is closely related to a fiddle tune entitled “Dubuque.” There are at least three distinct tunes called “Dry and Dusty.” This version probably derives from the Ozark region of southern Missouri, but it could have come from any of a large number of sources. “Little Rabbit” is actually two tunes mushed together by “Crockett’s Kentucky Mountaineers,” who were actually from West Virginia but relocated near Fresno, California. The first three parts are a tune called “Little Rabbit,” which has strong similarities to “John Brown’s Dream.” The last two parts are a tune called “Little Rabbit Where’s Your Mammy.” In the recording by the Crocketts, they play the first tune, then the second tune, and then they return to the first tune. Nowadays, it is played as one tune with five parts.
Each of these pieces is polished like a gem by each musician and then fit together in one setting. This fine jewelry belongs in your musical collection.
Annie Staninec & Nick Hornbuckle